In the Land of Brass Bands
Once a year, a tiny Serbian village explodes with brass cacophony and riotous celebration as half a million fans descend upon Guča, the world’s largest trumpet competition. On the 50th anniversary of the festival, an unlikely American brass band undertakes a journey to the source of their inspiration, barely a decade after NATO bombs rocked Belgrade.
The citizens of Guča prepare for the oncoming hordes with a mix of national pride and nervous energy. The older generation has lived through world war, socialist rule, national fragmentation, and ethnic cleansing – all of which has given way to a festival at the center of a evolving national identity. Middle-aged business owners hope to capitalize on a growing festival and huge influx of cash. The youngest watch the best trumpeters in the world play their country’s traditional music; some yearn to play on that stage, while others throw on their headphones to pump Metallica and Lady Gaga.
Brasslands explores the moment when cultural appropriation confronts its origin – in this war-scarred landscape, disparate societies find common ground in a joyous, deeply transcendent music that leaves no ear unaffected.